Inauguration of Golan town named after Trump to be delayed due to new elections

Golan Regional Council says ceremony to be attended by Netanyahu, US envoy Friedman won’t be held on June 12 as planned, also as a result of ‘legal problems beyond our control’

Aerial view of small village of Kela Alon in the Golan Heights, near the site of a new community to be named after US President Donald Trump. (Golan Regional Council)
Aerial view of small village of Kela Alon in the Golan Heights, near the site of a new community to be named after US President Donald Trump. (Golan Regional Council)

The inauguration of a new community in the Golan Heights set to be named after US President Donald Trump will be delayed, local officials said Tuesday, one of the many consequences of surprise Knesset elections being called last week.

The ceremony had been scheduled for June 12 near the existing village of Kela Alon in the northwestern Golan.

In April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his new government would name a town in the Golan Heights after Trump in honor of the US president’s decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the northern territory.

The Golan Regional Council said in a statement Tuesday that it had been looking forward to celebrating the anniversary of Israel’s capture of the northern region from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War, with a big cornerstone-laying ceremony attended by Netanyahu and US envoy David Friedman.

Photo taken on October 18, 2017, shows an Israeli flag fluttering above the wreckage of an Israeli tank sitting on a hill in the Golan Heights and overlooking the border with Syria. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)

“Unfortunately, due to the dissolving of the Knesset, government circumstances and legal problems beyond our control, the arrival of the prime minister and the US ambassador has been canceled,” the regional council said.

“After consultations within the council and with community leaders, it has been decided that the event planned for June 12 will be postponed to a later date,” it added. “That decision stems from the understanding that we cannot fund the entire cost of the event from the residents’ pockets.”

The Makor Rishon news website reported that the ceremony would be held only after the new Israeli government is formed, which isn’t likely to happen before November.

The name of the new community has not been announced. On Sunday, the Kan public broadcaster reported that the Government Naming Committee was debating between two names: Ramat Trump (literally translatable as “Trump Heights”) or Ramat Hanasi Trump (“President Trump Heights”).

US President Donald Trump, seated, holds up a signed proclamation on the Golan Heights, alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, standing center, in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House in Washington, DC, March 25, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

Trump signed a proclamation on March 25 recognizing Israel’s hold on the plateau when Netanyahu visited the White House, in a move seen by some as timed to help the Israeli premier in his reelection bid.

It upended decades of US policy and drew some international condemnation, along with Israeli praise.

Israel captured the strategic plateau from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War and in 1981 effectively annexed the area, in a move never recognized by the rest of international community, which considers the Golan Heights to be occupied Syrian territory.

To celebrate the occasion, the Golan council invited the 25,000 Israeli residents of the area to a gala celebration to be held outside the town of Katzrin, some 14 kilometers south of where the official ceremony will take place at the village.

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